Conflict is a natural and inevitable aspect of most close personal relationships - the crucial issue is not whether it exists, but the way it is managed. Skilfully portraying both developmental or healthy conflict, and destructive or unhealthy conflict, this interdisciplinary volume leads to a better understanding of this vital aspect of relationships. Integrating current research and theory, the authors explore the variation in definitions of interpersonal conflict; review popular survey and observational measures; and discuss specific concerns regarding parent-child relationships, conflict between friends and those romantically involved.

Methods for Studying Conflict in Close Relationships

Methods for studying conflict in close relationships

As indicated in Chapter 1, conceptualizations of conflict vary. It is no surprise, then, that operational definitions of interpersonal conflict also differ substantially from one another. A larger epistemological issue affecting conflict research concerns what counts as a valid measure of behavior. For some researchers, only direct observation of interaction permits inferences about conflict behavior, although such interactions (of necessity) suffer from artificiality. For others, self-reports of conflict present a more valid option, despite the limitation that self-reports suffer from people's inability to recall precise accounts of their conflicts. The superiority of one approach over another does not reside in the approach itself (see Jacobson, 1985); instead, the superiority of the approach ...

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